This week's featured artist is a talented chainmaille artist. Jessica of Red Panda Chainmaille offers a wide spectrum of chainmaille jewelry, from the fun and funky to the sleek and classic. If you appreciate the art of chainmaille like I do, you absolutely have to check out her shop!
What does it mean to you to "buy handmade"?
Buying handmade is about supporting independent retailers, who make a living or at least supplement their income with the things they make. It's supporting your fellow person instead of a big box retailer.
How long have you been active in your craft?
I've been making chainmaille since my junior year of high school, in 2004. I remember weaving rings in English class, and I haven't stopped since!
What inspires your work?
I know most people say something cliche like nature or architecture inspires them. When I think about this question, it's honestly my work that inspires my work. I've never been on a nature walk and suddenly been inspired to create something. I do like to consider myself a photographer as well, so I see the beauty in nature and I capture it that way. As for my chainmaille, almost all of my ideas come from when I'm working on one item, and my mind wanders to other things that are similar to what I'm working on, but substantially different. I've invented new weaves of chainmaille by trying to make a weave with ring sizes that I know won't work for it and coming up with something completely new. Or just trying to create a pattern from memory that I haven't made in years. I might weave a ring into a slightly different place than the pattern calls for, and make something new. I'm always experimenting with color combinations and weave combinations, so there's always something I'm making, inspiring more things for me to make. As self-absorbed as that sounds, it's the truth!
Where do you sell your creations?
I primarily sell my chainmaille on my website, www.redpandajewelry.com, Etsy (http://redpanda.etsy.com), and Artfire (http://redpanda.artfire.com). I have my full stock listed on these three sites. I have one to five items listed on tons of other handmade sites across the web, mostly just to try them out. I'm also very active with social networking sites. Links to my twitter, myspace, facebook, indie public, plurk, and flickr sites can be found on my main domain site.
Are there any special accolades you have earned in your field?
I'm honestly not that involved with the "artist" community locally, as most all of my work is sold online. I am so busy with just creating things and the whole process of photographing and listing, that I don't feel that I have enough time to enter contests or write for magazines or anything of that nature. As previously stated, I have invented a few weaves recognized by the Maille Artisans International League. I'm also a paralegal full time while I'm not mailling, work on my hoop dancing skills on a regular basis (see hooping.org for more info on hoopdance), take pictures of abandoned buildings and other interesting things, and have a wonderful boyfriend, so my hands stay pretty full.